'Player education outside franchises' ambit' - Mathur
Amrit Mathur, Delhi Daredevils' consultant and former India team manager, said that it was impractical for franchises to form a formal body to educate and monitor players in the IPL. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Mathur said that the concept of a formal body to control activities like spot-fixing would not be feasible as the franchises had control over players only during the tournament. Moreover, he said that incidents like these could not be completely eradicated but, with appropriate systems, could be controlled and reduced.
"There's no provision at the moment for a formal body. At the same time, there is a practical body in the sense that the teams have the players contracted with them for only 45 days," Mathur said. "Beyond those 45 days, there is no relationship between the franchise and player. So if it's the 46th day, and a team has to go to its captain, it's on request mode. If we're with a player only for 45 days, there's nothing we can do beyond that. The players are busy, they have no relationship with you, so what kind of programmes or education or anything can you do? It doesn't work."
Mathur also said there was very little administrators could do in the spot-fixing situation, but advised that systems governing cricket could always be strengthened. "I don't think the IPL or the BCCI could have done anything more once it was revealed such a thing happened. The IPL or the BCCI doesn't have the tools or the ability to monitor or police this beyond a point. So, they have to go by what the investigations throw up in terms of evidence or offence of the individual is concerned.
"The systems can be strengthened, there could be better monitoring and provisions to ensure such things don't happen. It's not that the IPL is not aware of the importance of keeping the league and tournament corruption-free of informing and warning the players of an act of this nature. Before the season, the anti-corruption unit meets each team separately, it's a pretty serious exercise."
Mathur also stated that there was now a greater understanding of the problem of match-fixing because such incidents had occurred in India, on the county circuit in England and in Test cricket. "I think there is an understanding across the boards, across the countries, across the ICC, across the member nations that this is a serious issue. It will throw up wrong things from time to time and you have to be vigilant, you have to educate, you have to monitor. And at the same time, after all this, if somebody is caught doing it, there has to be some punishment."
Mathur stressed on the importance of a law in India that could enforce stricter punishments for spot-fixing and other related crimes.
"That punishment, in England came through the court of law, not through the ECB. Similarly there has to be some procedure through which it comes to court of law in India," Mathur said. "Apparently, earlier, there was some uncertainty about which provisions of the law does such an act attract. Ultimately, we were informed yesterday that it is under conspiracy and cheating, which do not attract very serious punishments. So maybe down the line there could be a special legislation which enforces stricter punishments for spot-fixing or any crime of this nature."
In response to a question on how franchises perceived the threat of spot-fixing, Mathur admitted that while vigilance wasn't as stringent in the first year, franchises began understanding that controversies like these would affect their business.
"I think in year one it was just a mad scramble to get things rolling," Mathur said. "But very soon the understanding reached everybody that: a) it is sport, you can't have sport sallied by something like this and b) it's a commercial venture, you invest huge amounts of money into the team, into the franchise and you're building a business. And the last thing a business wants is a controversy of this kind. It holds the foundation of a business of any kind, let alone a cricket team or a sporting tournament. So even before the ICC's anti-corruption unit became a part of the IPL, I know many teams were telling their players the need to be clean, the need to be fair, the need to not do anything that would tarnish the brand."